To AFL Home Page
To AFL Home Page LowerDotcomLogo.jpg (2555 bytes)

EastDivCombo.jpg (2262 bytes) WestDivCombo.jpg (2267 bytes)
.

DENVER BRONCOS
American Football League
Charter Members

.

BroncoPlaqColor.jpg (65558 bytes)

GMingo.jpg (19300 bytes)
Gene Mingo takes a handoff from Frank Tripucka during a 1962 win over Houston.

60-1sock.gif (5978 bytes)

BroncosFansite.gif (9922 bytes)
OCTOBER 2005

.

 

          Although the Denver Broncos' 39-97-4 record was the worst of any of the original eight American Football League teams', the franchise had many proud moments and several AFL superstars, including Gene Mingo, Goose Gonsoulin, Lionel Taylor and Floyd Little.   The Broncos won the first-ever American Football League game, over the Boston Patriots  (13-10) on September 9, 1960.

Al Carmichael

      In that first game, halfback Al Carmichael was involved in the first play, as Bob McNamara took the Patriots' opening kickoff and reversed it to Carmichael, who ran it to the Broncos' 17-yardline.  Then Carmichael ran the AFL's first play from scrimmage, on a handoff from Bronco quarterback Frank Tripucka, for a five-yard gain.
      And on the first play of the second quarter, Carmichael took a  short pass from Tripucka and scampered for a 59-yard score, the first-ever touchdown in the American Football League.

(click here for more)

          Denver had the first black place-kicker in U.S. Professional Football, Gene Mingo.   In the league's first season, they had the leading quarterback, Frank Tripucka (248/478, 3,038 yds, 24 td); receiver, Lionel Taylor (92 for 1,235 yds, 12 td); interceptor, Goose Gonsoulin (11 for 98 yds); and scorer, Gene Mingo (123 total points on PAT, FG, td rushes, td receptions, and kick returns for td).  The Broncos were the first AFL team ever to defeat an NFL team, on August 5, 1967 when they beat the Lions 13-7.  They were the first pro football team to wear vertically-striped socks (and the first to burn their socks in a public ceremony!).  


           
The Denver Broncos were also the first modern pro football team to have a  black quarterback as a starter.  Marlin Briscoe set rookie quarterback records when he took over the starting job in 1968.

          Despite their relative lack of early success in the win-loss column, the Broncos produced some memorable games, like one in 1960 against the Buffalo Bills.  Willmer Fowler, the first Buffalo back to top 100 yards rushing in a game with 120, broke a 61-yard run to set up Billy Atkins' early field goal. Then Jim Wagstaff's interception and 23-yard return to the Denver 31 set up a short TD plunge by Wray Carlton for a 10-0 lead.   In the second quarter, Elbert Dubenion (6 for 134) took a flat pass and turned it into a 76-yard TD; but before the half ended, Denver's Gene Mingo scored, shortly after Ted Wegert ran a Bronco fumble 38 yards to the Bills 17.     In a 5:16 span in the third, Atkins kicked a field goal, Mack Yoho returned a Frank Tripucka interception 15 yards for a score, Fowler ran 19 yards for a TD, and Atkins made another field goal to make it 38-7. The Bills seemed headed for an easy victory.

          But the Broncos then made their move. On the first play after the kickoff, Lionel Taylor (9 for199) caught a short pass and sped 80 yards for a score, and in the first 6:39 of the fourth, he caught two more TD passes from Tripucka covering 24 and 35 yards to make it 38-28.    With the Bills suddenly stagnant on offense and defense, the Broncos' Don Allen scored on a one-yard run with 4:25 left.  Denver's last drive started at their 33 with 1:14 to go. Tripucka (19 for 41, 5 TD, 328 yds) completed three passes, and Bills linebacker Archie Matsos was flagged for pass interference. The Broncos moved to the 12, and Mingo came in to kick a 19-yard tying field goal with 12 seconds remaining to cap the comeback.



           Early AFL game ball.  Reputed in Al Carmichael's book 106 Yards to be the ball from the first regular season AFL game, but from the score on the ball and the signatures of players like Chuck McMahon and Pat O'Donnell, who were never on an active Broncos roster, the ball appears to be from one of the first AFL exhibition games in 1960.  It does carry the autographs of Broncos star receiver Lionel Taylor, Al Carmichael and Eldon Danenhauer, among others.  
(Click here to see other American Football League balls.)

Denver Broncos in the American Football League Hall of Fame

Marllin Briscoe
Willie Brown
Miller Farr
Cookie Gilchrist
Goose Gonsoulin
Bill Groman
Abner Haynes

Rich Jackson
Floyd Little
Wahoo McDaniel
Gene Mingo
Lionel Taylor
Jim Turner

Lou Saban

Image of Broncos pennants by Trench, Inc. courtesy of Greg Stearns

                                                                     

Frank Tripucka QB - 1959 Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) uniform.  AFL's leading passer 1960, AFL All-Star 1962. Eldon Danenhauer T - 1960 - AFL All-Star 1962 and 1965. Bud McFadin DT - 1961 - AFL All-Star 1961, 1962 and 1963. Donnie Stone RB - 1962 - AFL All-Star 1961. Billy Joe FB - 1963 - AFL Rookie of the Year. Jerry Sturm C/T/G - 1964 - AFL All-Star 1964 and 1966. Al Denson WR - 1966 - AFL All-Star 1967 and 1969. Nemiah Wilson DB - 1967 - AFL All-Star. Floyd Little RB - 1968 - AFL All-Star 1968 and 1969. Dave Costa DT - 1969 - AFL All-Star 1963, 1967, 1968 and 1969. Bob Scarpitto WR/P - 1965 - AFL All-Star 1966.
Click on images for a larger view.

 

..

BroncosOilers.jpg (114573 bytes)

Frank Tripucka (18) throws a short pass to Lionel Taylor (87) against the Houston Oilers on November 5, 1961.  The Oilers prevailed: Houston 45, Denver 14.

Lionel Taylor in the Broncos' 1961 away jersey and pants (sans striped stockings), and Tommy Janik in their 1962 home jersey.

.

On December 2, 1962, Oilers' AFL Hall of Famer Charley Hennigan cradles a George Blanda pass and prepares for  a hit from Broncos Hall of Famer Willie Brown.  The Oilers won, 34-17.                From Touchdown!, George Sullivan

.

MarlinBriscoePass.jpg (41101 bytes)

Wendell Hayes, John McCormick (10) and Larry Kaminski in 1966 Bronco uniforms, against the Boston Patriots.

From Touchdown!, George Sullivan

Marlin Briscoe (15) in his first start, week four of the 1968 season, vs. the Boston Patriots on September 29.

.


WILLIE BROWN

          Willie Brown played collegiate football at Grambling and was not drafted by any Professional team after leaving school in 1963. 
           He was then signed by the Broncos and became a starter by the middle of his rookie season. He won All-AFL honors in 1964 and played in the AFL All-Star Game, recording 9 interceptions for 144 yards.  He was also an AFL All-Star for the Broncos in 1965.
          In 1967, Brown was traded to the AFL's Oakland Raiders, and would spend the remainder of his AFL career there, serving as defensive captain.  At Oakland, he was named to 3 more AFL All-Star games.  He was also named All-AFL 3 times.
          He is a member of the American Football League All-Time Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 28, 1984, his first year of eligibility. In 1999, he was ranked number 50 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, making him the highest-ranking Raider player.

             Brown was originally signed by the Houston Oilers but was cut during training camp.   On the 2009 Showtime series Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League, George Blanda tells this story: "Willie couldn't cover Charley Hennigan in practice, so he was let go, and the Broncos picked him up.  The next season, we  played Denver in the last game, and Charley needed nine catches to break Lionel Taylor's record of 100 receptions in a season.  Charley got the nine he needed, with Willie covering him.  Willie's in the Hall of Fame.  Charley Hennigan should be, too." 

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


MARLIN BRISCOE

       Marlin Briscoe, of the UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA, in 1968 became the first black quarterback to start a modern-era Professional Football game, paving the way not only for James Harris in the AFL the following year, but for such future Pro Football stars as Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Daunte Culpepper, Doug Williams, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and every other black to earn a living under center since.
        Briscoe, a 14th-round draft choice, demanded a three-day trial at quarterback before signing to play, ostensibly in the Bronco defensive secondary.
        Ultimately, he started five games at quarterback, going 2-3 for Denver, after starter Steve Tensi went down with injury and his backups proved ineffective.

       Briscoe threw for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns: just one less than Joe Namath, and still a Bronco record for rookie quarterbacks.  He also rushed for 308 yards and three TDs.  He felt slighted by the mainstream media, and told author Jeff Miller (Going Long): “(Only) the black tabloids let the world know that a black man could think and lead.” 
       
The next year, a contract dispute resulted in his trade to Buffalo, where he was installed at wide receiver (and caught passes from Harris).  Before he was through, Briscoe would earn All-Pro status and play for two Super Bowl winners in Miami, and was a vital cog in the Dolphins’ perfect 17-0 season.  Playing for six teams over nine seasons, Briscoe caught 224 passes for 3,537 yards and 30 touchdowns.
         After football, Briscoe fell on hard times, including drug addiction and a stay in prison, and watched as his Super Bowl rings were auctioned off to pay off a defaulted bank loan.  Again, he overcame the odds, and now runs a Boys and Girls Club and a football camp for children in his native California.
                                                                              ~ Submitted by Allen Twitchell

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


COOKIE GILCHRIST

        A legendary player in the American Football League, Cookie Gilchrist came from six years of super-stardom in the Canadian Football League, where he played fullback, linebacker, lineman and placekicker, and gained over 4,800 yards rushing. 

       Gilchrist was a CFL All-Star five straight years, with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1956 and 1957, in 1958 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and with the Toronto Argonauts in 1959 and 1960. 
       For Buffalo, he ran and kicked, and would have played defense if they'd let him.  He was the first 1,000-yard American Football League rusher, with 1,096 in a 14-game schedule in 1962.  He and later, Paul Robinson (Bengals, 1968), were the only two men to rush for over 1,000 yards in their first year in a U.S. Profesional Football league.  In 1962 Gilchrist set the all-time AFL record for touchdowns with 13, and earned league MVP honors. 
        He rushed for 243 yards and scored 5 tds  in a single game against the NY Jets in 1963, setting a pro football record.  Though he was only with the Bills for three years  (1962-1964), he remains the team's fifth leading rusher all-time, and led the league in scoring in each of his three years as a Bill.   He ran for 122 yards in the Bills' 1964 AFL championship defeat of San Diego, 20-7.   His 4.5 yds/rush average is second as a Bill only to O.J. Simpson. 
 

       Gilchrist led a successful boycott of New Orleans as the site of the American Football League All-Star game after the 1964 season, in an early civil rights victory for black athletes.  He was an AFL All-Star with the Bills in 1962, 1963, and 1964.  He was traded to the Broncos on 1965.  George Saimes relates that while Gilchrist was negotiating with Broncos personnel man Fred Gehrke, Cookie balked at signing the contract, saying he would not do so unless the Broncos also signed Willie Ross, who had been his backup at Buffalo.  When Gehrke balked, Gilchruist said "You don't understand - Ross practices for me, and I play in the games!"
       At Denver, Cookie continued his excellence, earning All-AFL and AFL All-Star honors and rushing for 954 yards.  He also played for the Miami Dolphins in 1966 and finished his AFL career in Denver in 1967.  In 1970, he was selected as the fullback on the All-Time All-AFL Team
In November of 2006, Cookie received honorable mention in the selection of the 50 greatest CFL players of all time.  Cookie was the only former AFL player to receive this honor.  In 2007, he was fighting and winning a battle against throat cancer. (click here for more)

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


AUSTIN "GOOSE" GONSOULIN

       Austin  Gonsoulin  of Baylor University  was  the original Denver Bronco, the first player selected for the team in the 1960 season. 

       By the end of his Bronco career, he was the all-time American Football League interception leader with 43.   He made the first interception in AFL history, in the first AFL game against the Patriots.  He had seven interceptions in his first three games,  and his 11 pickoffs in 1960 are still a Denver club record.
    He shares the team record for interceptions in a game with four, a feat he accomplished Sept. 18, 1960 at Buffalo.  Gonsoulin was  All-AFL in 1960, 1962 and 1963.  His amazing durablity and toughness enabled him to start 61 consecutive games at one point in his career. 
      A six-time AFL All-Star, Gonsoulin was selected to the second team, All-Time All-AFL.  Gonsoulin was also the captain of his college team at Baylor.  

Gonsoulin23.gif (1375 bytes)

 AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


RICH JACKSON

      Rich Jackson of SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY played for the Oakland Raiders in 1966 and the Broncos from 1967 through 1969. He played through 1972 after the AFL-NFL merger. His nickname was 'Tombstone' ('Stone' to teammates), and he was known for moves such as the head slap and the 'halo spinner', which he used to subdue opposing offensive linemen. Teammate Lyle Alzado called Rich Jackson the toughest man he'd ever met, and teammate Larry Kaminski says "He destroyed opposing offensive tackles." His career was cut short by a severe knee injury, but he finished with a total of 43 sacks.

        He had 10 sacks in 1968 and posted a career-high total of 11 in 1969. He was named First Team All-AFL for the 1968 and  1969 seasons, and played for the AFL Western All-Stars both years. He was also a unanimous First Team All-Pro choice in 1970. Despite the shortened career, Sports Illustrated writer and football expert Paul Zimmerman says that Tombstone Jackson was perhaps the finest overall defensive end and pass rusher he ever saw, a surefire Hall of Famer if had  been in a bigger media market.  
        In 1970, Jackson was selected to the All-Time AFL Second Team; i
n 1975 he was voted to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame; and in 1984, he was inducted into the Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame.        

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes) A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


FLOYD LITTLE

(click here for more)

LittleFrontSmall.jpg (68651 bytes)
Click here for "Floyd Little in the Hall of Fame" page

       A three-time All-American at Syracuse University and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Floyd Little was known simply as "The Franchise" in Denver,  where he was the first No. 1 draft pick to sign with the Broncos.   He was the sixth selection of the 1967 draft.   Legend has it that he was "fired" by coach Lou Saban after a fumble that led to a a late-game lead for the Buffalo Bills' in 1968.    Little, after refusing to leave the huddle, asked QB Marlon Briscoe to "throw the ball as far as you can and I'll catch it."  Briscoe threw it, Little caught it, and the Broncos kicked a winning field goal.   Little was an AFL All-Star in 1968 and 1969.  He is a charter member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame,

       In his fifth season, Little was the first Bronco to lead his conference in rushing with 901 yds, and the next year was the first Bronco to eclipse one thousand yards, gaining 1,133, the most in all of Professional Football.   He retired with 6,323 yds rushing and 43 tds.

Little44.gif (1896 bytes)

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


GENE MINGO

(click here for more)

MingoFrontSmall.jpg (71617 bytes)
(click here for even more)

       The first black field goal kicker in American Professional Football, Mingo was a very versatile player: he played several positions including halfback, kicker, and kickoff/punt returner.   In 1960 he had the first punt return for a touchdown in the American Football League.   That touchdown won the first-ever American Football League game, as the Broncos defeated the Patriots.   Mingo also scored the first points in Mile High Stadium, then called Bears Stadium, with an 18-yard field goal.  In the 1961 season opener against the Bills at Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium, he threw two td passes from  the  halfback  position.   

       A 50-yarder to Lionel Taylor in the first quarter, and a 52-yarder to Taylor in the third helped the Broncos win 22-10.  Mingo kicked the PATs after each score.  Mingo led the American Football League in scoring in 1960 with 123 points and in 1962 with 137 points, and was an American Football League All-Star both years.  He also holds the franchise record for the longest touchdown run, an 82-yarder against the Raiders in 1961.
      After years of being neglected by the Broncos' brass, in 2014, Gene Mingo was finally given an honor that should have come years earlier - enshrinement in the team's Ring of Honor.
(Read more - click HERE.)

 

  Mingo21.gif (1297 bytes)

 AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.


LIONEL TAYLOR

       For the first six years of existence of the American Football League, one man led the league in receptions each year: Lionel Taylor from New Mexico Highlands University, where he had starred in basketball and track, and made all-conference wide receiver in 1956 and 1957.  Taylor is second in all-time receptions (543) for the Denver Broncos, and is their all-time leading receiver in yardage (6,872).  Taylor was the Broncos' team Most Valuable Player in 1963, 1964 and 1965, and an American Football League All-Star in 1961, 1962 and 1965.   Taylor was the first professional football receiver ever to make one hundred receptions in a single season (1961), and he accomplished that feat in only 14 games.  

LionelTaylorFleerFrontSmall.jpg (58073 bytes)
Click here for more

         Taylor had four seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving, and averaged 84.7 catches from 1960 to 1965, at the time the highest six-year total in professional football history.  He ended his career at the Houston Oilers, as the AFL's all-time reception leader with 567.

Taylor87.gif (1415 bytes)

AFLHOF.gif (17340 bytes)

A member of the
American Football League
Hall of Fame

.

Ernie Barnes ~ "Official Artist of the American Football League"

ErnieBarnes1964ToppsCombo.jpg (114786 bytes)

TheBench.jpg (41868 bytes)

.

Patriots Bills Oilers Jets Dolphins DENVER BRONCOS Chiefs Chargers Raiders Bengals

.

.Click here for DENVER BRONCOS team facts

.

WebBunnyTiny.gif (1991 bytes) CompassRose75high.gif (2545 bytes) BroncosLogo75h.gif (2385 bytes)
THE Broncos
UNIFORMS
Denver
Broncos

SARGEUSA

AFLRedraw70high.gif (2081 bytes)

PlayersWhoBelong.gif (15996 bytes)

Home

Site
Index

1965 topps cards

Remember
the
AFL

Players who
Belong in the
Hall of Fame
.
©2003  American Football League Hall of Fame  All rights reserved. Duplicate in any form you like, if you're an AFL fan.
You have the permission of the American Football League Hall of Fame.  Please credit/link to: http://www.remembertheafl.com
Last revision: 12 August 2016 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com
 

.

Hit Counter